The Beacon Mapimpane - Female....
Tuesday morning, a small 12 seconds after half past 5, Central African Time here in Djuma in the Sabi Sands, Pieter, our benchmark and fabulous presenter, opened our morning drive with, again no idea what was going to be around the next corner, as he threaded along the winding roads of Djuma.
After driving for little under an half and hour, Ephraim one of Djuma's guides called in a mufazi ingwe (female leopard), close to Sandy Patch. Pieter and Alex were still close to Tree House dam, about 10 minutes' drive away but were quickly heading west via Shabam road towards a possibility of spotting a spotted one! Charging through Philemons Dip, Somali and the rest of her stunning heard appeared, We spent a little time with them but were very eager to grasp a seat with the leopard.
The signal was a bit "choppy" as WE arrived on the scene, but as WE got the first glimpse of the female it stabilized. Almost simultaneously our (well I know my) Pieter's and Alex's hearts started beating a billion beats a second as we slowly grew accustomed to the overwhelming beauty of this young female leopard. She was relaxed, inquisitive, and entertaining to watch - almost playing with Pieter and Alex, just giving us a glimpse of her playfulness and her character filled, intriguing face. Pouncing through the thicket of the thlatin (bush) we moved ahead slowly, following her every move. She crossed Aubrey's road, a couple of hundred meters east of Sandy Patch. It was on this side of the road when Alex gave us an amazing close-up on her sunlit face, with the grass dancing in front of her. This confirmed it - she is definitely one of the most beautiful leopards WE have ever seen.
She didn’t stay for long, suddenly darting back over the road from where she came. A spotted hyena appeared, sniffing the surrounding area which she had crossed just a couple of minutes ago. Staying submerged, hiding from our game drive's eyes, luckily Alex saw her again, and WE sat with her for a while longer!
This sighting and the time spent with her will stay in our minds for a while and it was lovely seeing and being able to spend some time with her. Pieter called her the Beacon female, which is correct in a sense. Actually her mother’s name is The Beacon Female and the one we spent time with was the Beacon Young One, or in Shongwaan, “ Mapimpane “. It is said that her father is The Jordaans Male, but alas WE cannot be 100% sure of that. She also has a brother who apparently lives far north in Buffelshoek. He has not yet been given a name.
Yesterday morning, when on the vehicle with Pieter and Jan, WE spent some time with our all time favorite leopard, Karula. Again Ephraim found her on the Galago - Buffelshoek shortcut road. From about 300 meters down the road we got the first glimpse of her, but thanks to the lovely Djuma guides we were able to spend some more time with her. The bush was very thick and she was pretty much flat cat as we finally found a spot to watch her. After a couple of minutes we decided to leave her in peace and left, hoping to find her again during the afternoon drive. Unfortunately WE didn’t succeed in doing that, because she was doing what leopard do best, staying elusive. She was alone and with her cubs somewhere to the north in Buffelshoek. We thought that she might be in the area for a while. This morning while with the Beacon Young One, Charles found her not far off, just to the south of Sandy Patch. Pieter, still close by, went for gold and headed off to try and find her. On the search for the second leopard of the drive Pieter bumped into three white rhino- and during this time the battery's alarm lights started to flash and WE had to end the drive...But what a awesome drive it was. WE saw three of the big five and of course we met The Stunning Beacon Young One.
Written by Jan Harm Robbertse